Availability vs. self-centeredness

Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I serve.

Availability is the quality of one who stands ready to contribute his or her own strength or worth to someone else. It is the ability to juggle one’s own priorities and schedule in order to take on another’s without dropping his own. Availability is not always a matter of duty. It is a voluntary spirit. Thinking of availability as “something I have to do” will kill the spirit of it. Availability is something I am happy to do, because I am committed to the success of others.

If you are running a personal errand and someone asks for your help, availability is setting aside your errand to lend a hand. However, if your boss sends you on an errand and someone asks you to stop and help him for awhile, you do not have the authority to change your boss’s priorities. Availability is “making my own priorities secondary,” but once you are entrusted with a priority from one you serve, do not set it aside. Faithfully guard and fulfill it. You have jurisdiction over your own priorities but you do not have jurisdiction to change the priorities of those to whom you answer.

Anticipating the kinds of needs others have, and the kinds of skills or equipment you should have in order to meet needs as they arise, is an important aspect of availability. In 1775, when British troops marched into the town of Lexington with orders to destroy American military supplies, the Lexington Minutemen were already positioned and waiting. The Minutemen were farmers, shopkeepers and other common Americans who were available: ready to respond whenever a need arose. For months they demonstrated availability through weekly duties, learning the skills and procedures that readied them for the real need. When the church bells tolled the call to gather on April 19, 1775, the Minutemen were able to assemble quickly because their equipment was in place and they had been trained to know what to do.

At home, emphasize to your children that being available means dropping whatever one is doing to respond to the call of one in need. Call them in from playing to set the table; afterward, talk about how well they responded and encourage them in developing availability.

Brought to you by the Four Corners Character Council. Character First! definitions and information used by permission. Copyright Character First Training Institute. www.characterfirst.com.

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